Eclipse – Elder Eidolons And Accursed Priesthood

Today it’s a query about setting up a fairly modest Cult with the power to change the world – albeit only very slowly and gradually. That’s pretty classic; the dreadful cult may not be very large, but over the years it’s terrible ceremonies slowly twist a substantial area towards becoming a realm of Lovecraftian horror, accomplishing some mighty summoning, or something similar.

Obviously, some heroes will just have to intervene at the last minute. Sadly, however, that may not be enough. If it’s a genuine Lovecraftian cult… any “victory” against it is always purely temporary. For some day the Elder Ones will reign once more – and that day may be delayed somewhat, but never stopped entirely.

Of course, in Eclipse, there are several ways to do this.

The idea is that a town worshiping Father Dagon would use a Magic Item in conjunction with Power Amplification Circles (from The Practical Enchanter) to be able to achieve together and over time what they couldn’t do alone in the here and now. They set up two Power Amplification Circles (one boosting a specific Greater Invocation and one boosting a Spell Group). The Magic Item would be casting a Greater Invocation with a Very Broad Range of Effects (+3 Levels) with Metamagic Modifiers of elaborate Component (-2), specific place (-1) and of course the circle (-4) making it a total -7 reduction). The Greater Invocation would only produce long-term Cantrip effects, with the duration further boosted by the second circle (-4), elaborate component (-2), specific place (-1), 10x casting time (-1) and the reduction for having lots of built-in metamagic (-3) for a total reduction of -11 and a final level of 6 – rendering the final Greater Invocation (Dagon’s Blessings) a level 2 spell (6 Base + 3 for Very Broad Theme – 3 for Metamagic -4 for Power Amplification Circle = 6+3-4-3 = 2).

Now that would mean it’d take days working in shifts to make sure anything gets done and requiring possibly months of continuous activation, but technically they could do everything nature magic would allow for if they were just competent, patient and smart enough to figure out how to craft those high-level spells from lower-level ones.

Now my question is: As ridiculous as the setup is (probably requiring a lot of people to basically just kill themselves irreversibly while casting to get it going in the first place), is it technically possible to stack it up like this?

-krackothunder

Well, lets take a look!

The basic spell is Greater Invocation (from The Practical Enchanter, Any Nature Magic Cantrip Effect, a very broad range of effects and so level three – although I’d probably let someone get away with taking it as level two since it IS only cantrips). On top of that, we’re throwing in +16 levels of the Persistent Metamagic to make the results permanent – reducing the level of the resulting spell with an elaborate component (a dedicated temple of Dagon, -2), a specific place (built on an ancient site holy to Dagon, -1), ten times the usual casting time (-1), the credit for having lots of built-in metamagic (-3) and a maxed-out Power Amplification Circle (-4) for a final spell level of seven.

We can squeeze another (-2) levels out of the Compaction metamagical theorem, so I’d throw in having a few of the worshipers take some attribute damage (-1) and beginning or progressing their slow transformations into Deep One s(-1) to get it down to level five.

So far, that works just fine. Unfortunately, throwing in another Circle runs afoul of the general rules on bonus stacking. A Greater Invocation can produce the effects of a wide variety of spells but doesn’t actually produce those spells; it just mimics them. The Greater Invocation is producing a permanent cantrip-level effect, but it isn’t actually creating permanent cantrips – and so another circle won’t help; it hasn’t actually got a fresh spell to start with.

Still, you don’t actually need another circle to pull off this trick. A Dread Relic Of The Elder Ones (an item) capable of casting that spell as a Unlimited-Use Command-Word item has a cost of (Spell Level 5 x Caster Level 9 x 1800 GP for Unlimited-Use Command Word x .6 (only for members of the Church of Dagon) x .8 (requires at least some ability to cast clerical spells calling on Dagon) x .5 (Immobile, so it can’t be hidden for later if adventurers find you) x .6 (requires a congregation and regular religious services in honor of Dagon to keep activated) x .6 (effects are always twisted towards the purposes of Dagon, regardless of the user’s intent) = 6998.4 GP. (Call it 7000). Lets say that it requires the sacrifice of two first level spell slots daily as well (using the Dedicated Item) modifier, for a net cost of 5000 GP – and our cultists can now chain together masses of those cantrips to produce higher-level effects, all of which will be permanent because the Cantrips making them up are permanent.

The two major remaining problems are that chaining together that many cantrips is likely to go horribly wrong every so often (which, to be fair, is as expected for a Lovecraftian cult) and that – since this relies on tying together a lot of permanent cantrips – messing up a few of them is likely to ruin the effect – and cantrips are fairly easy to break. This means that some pesky adventurers could all too easily ruin everything!

To get around the “easy to ruin” problem we’ll want something with an instantaneous effect.

To get that start with Limited Wish instead. Add (+2) spell levels to get rid of the component requirement, then throw in some of the modifiers from earlier – requires an elaborate temple (-2), ten times the usual casting time (-1), and only works using a +4 level amplification circle (-4), for a net level of two.

As an item this will require (Spell Level 2 x Caster Level 3 x 1800 GP for Unlimited-Use Command Word Activated x .6 (three uses per day) x .6 (requires holding a religious service with at least a dozen other cultists in honor of Dagon to activate) x .6 (effects – and side effects – are always twisted towards the terrible purposes of Dagon, regardless of the user’s intent) = 2333 GP.

Admittedly our nifty item – call it an Elder Eidolon (Of Dagon, although presumably other Elder Ones use the same basic design) – has to be installed in the center of a intricate magic circle in a temple of Dagon and be the center of worship by a Cult of Dagon to work – but three Limited Wishes per day can quite reasonably be used to gradually cause all sorts of effects, Even better, the effect of any given Limited Wish or chain thereof can probably be taken as Instantaneous and hence non-dispellable.

It will take quite a while to build up to really high-end effects – whether using one “limited wish” to hold the next one ready to go in a chain to exploit Lerandors Rule or simply stacking up small and gradual changes. Either way will probably result in it taking ten days to reach a ninth-level effect (such as cursing an area), a year for a fourteenth level effect, a century for a twentieth level effect, and perhaps two thousand years for a twenty-fourth level effect – but that actually seems fairly reasonable. and allows plenty of time to figure out the next step as you go. Even better, using instantaneous effects allows for interruptions. If the cult is driven off for a decade or so, they can just pick up where they left off when they manage to take their temple back.

And if the rest of the world is stupid enough to let the Cult of Dagon just do what it wants for two thousand years while the side effects and intermediate effects build up all around them… well, if the planetary population is THAT stupid than SOMETHING is going to get them anyway, and it might as well be the Elder Ones, who will at least appreciate the snack.

Worse, even if someone simply exploits the cult and the Limited Wishes for their own ends, the side effects will accumulate. It might take ten or fifty times as long for major effects to build up – but it will still happen. As long as people fall to the seductive lure of easy power, the countdown to doom will continue.

For even more fun have the high priest take…

  • Three Specific Knowledges: the required runic circle, how to make proper temples to Dagon, and the theology of the Elder Ones (3 CP in total),
  • Innate Enchantment: an Elder Edolion (as above) and (Skill) Mastery (Spellcraft, L2, +20 Bonus to one roll for creating Circles, 1 Use/Day (x.2), only for the circle for the Elder Eidolon (x.3) = 720 GP) for a net value of 3050 GP or 4 CP.
  • Blessing, Specialized and Corrupted / only to pass on this package to a successor when slain, the user (or perhaps “host”) has no control over whether or not to do so; it will happen (2 CP)

All Corrupted (again, for the blessing, but this is Cthulhu Mythos stuff and it only saves 1 CP) / the user will find himself or herself creating a temple and gathering a cult to serve Dagon even if he or she has to sleepwalk to do it

This results in a net “cost” of 6 CP – but it was paid long ago by the first Priest of Dagon to develop this infectious accursed feat to empower himself and his successors – driving them to both service and madness whether the unfortunate priest-victims like it or not.

They might like it. There are always some people who would do anything for that kind of power.

So you have slain the high priest? Then the curse is upon you! You have done us a great service, but we must cast you out! Perhaps your friends can restrain you – but if not, it might be best to kill yourself. The curse would still return eventually – but if it inflicts itself upon an infant it may require many years.

Or you could just give your high priest the Ritual Magic ability for (6 CP) and let the cult work on gathering the components for some horrific ritual. That’s a good deal simpler, and will almost certainly take a lot less time – but if it gets interrupted by adventurers the cult will usually need to start over from scratch. That’s good for a mystery scenario though, where the characters find out a few of the things the cult is after, and must stop them from obtaining them, trace them to their base, derail whatever ritual they’ve managed to scrape together, and then deal with whatever lesser horror the disrupted ritual managed to produce.

And I hope that covers what you wanted to know!

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2 Responses

  1. That is indeed what I wanted to know.
    I do still have two question though:
    1) The “Unique Training”-part of Blessing that allows someone to pass on abilities is noted as costing an additional +6 CP in Eclipse. Wouldn’t that make the Blessing cost 4 CP after specialization and corruption instead of 2 CP?
    2) Assuming 1 is true, could someone use Emperor’s Star (Specialized for double effect: Doesn’t grant +1 to BAB, AC and Saving Throws) to give them the following:
    Four Specific Knowledges: the required runic circle, how to make proper temples to Dagon, how to find fellow cultists of Dagon and the theology of the Elder Ones (4 CP in total),
    Innate Enchantment: an Elder Edolion (as above) and (Skill) Mastery (Spellcraft, L2, +20 Bonus to one roll for creating Circles, 1 Use/Day (x.2), only for the circle for the Elder Eidolon (x.3) = 720 GP) for a net value of 3050 GP or 4 CP.
    Blessing with the Legacy Modifier, Specialized and Corrupted / only to pass on the Emperor’s Star package to a successor when slain, the user (or perhaps “host”) has no control over whether or not to do so; it will happen (4 CP)
    1 Level of Cleric Casting (No Package) with additional Components Limitation (6 CP)
    All Corrupted/ the user will find himself or herself creating a temple and gathering a cult to serve Dagon even if he or she has to sleepwalk to do it
    ?
    Effectively, a guy gets Leadership, gives everyone a minor variation on the package, and once they die they pass the package on to some other person to ensure there always be a mass of people either starting cults of Dagon or working together in order to speed up the construction of higher level effects.

    • The unique training modifier lets someone you bless retain something of what you lent them after you reclaim your abilities. In this case, there’s no provision for reclaiming the ability; the recipient is not learning it, it’s just transferring itself to them until they die, whether they like it or not – rather like an intangible relic.

      Thus, even if the original priest got resurrected… those six character points have gone adventuring without him or her and won’t be back. Still, at least that’s a retirement option of sorts!

      You could indeed use Emperors Star to bestow the package – but unfortunately you’d be the one supporting the temporary points in that template and it only works on your followers. So your followers might be able to pass the package around when they die, but it would probably only work on people who were already inclined to follow you – and when something happened to you, every iteration of the package that you were supporting would disappear.

      It would take longer, but the best way to pull this one off might be be to give your followers some skills in raising kids – who will have their own points to spend – to take the package. That would be passed on normally. Still, if you want to raise a generation of world-wrecking cultists, creating dozens or hundreds of sects dedicated to warping the world so as to do it quicker, that would be quite a doomsday plot.

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